A thriving Carlisle aparthotel is set to unveil plans to double its room capacity.

It comes after two other landmark buildings in the city were earmarked for possible hotel developments – prompting hopes of a boost to the tourist and city break market.

The Halston, in Warwick Road, is ploughing ahead with phase three of its development on the site of the former Lonsdale cinema.

Simon Harrison, one of its directors, said: “We are very close. The plans will be submitted within the next month.”

The Halston opened in July 2014, transforming the former Crown Post Office into quality accommodation.

Owners then bought the neighbouring Lonsdale site, securing planning permission to build an extension.

It is currently being used as a car park after the historic building – which campaigners had hoped to save – was demolished.

Consent is for a three-storey building, housing shops on the ground floor, extra hotel accommodation above and parking at the rear. But that is now subject to change to meet market demands.

With the business now going strong, Mr Harrison said they are now ready to push ahead with detailed plans.

And he stressed that they are committed to building something that would add to the area’s appeal – helping to transform Warwick Road into a real gateway to the city.

“We want to reinstate the frontage. We gave a commitment to do that when we knocked the Lonsdale down. It’s taken a bit of extra time to get the building right,” he added.

The original plans were for eight extra apartments, but they now want to up that to 19 – more than doubling the existing 16-room capacity.

If granted, it is hoped work could start in early 2017.

Business and tourism leaders hope the investment in the Halston – along with fresh plans to reinstate the derelict Central Plaza as a 65-bed hotel and create a boutique hotel in the Citadel buildings – will help transform Carlisle into a popular city break destination.

Rob Johnson, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said it was encouraging to see new visitor developments outside the Lake District National Park.

“There is an opportunity unfolding. People are looking to invest. I do think it will help with the tourist offer. It will become more attractive,” he said. For too long, he said, Carlisle has not had the range of accommodation needed to position it in the city breaks market. But he said three and four star developments would change that.

“That’s where the majority of people want to be. Four star is ideal because it brings people with the right spend profile.

“When you look at our offer as a visitor destination, it’s tremendous. We now need to get to that critical point where the accommodation is there that helps the rest of the infrastructure develop,” he added.

For example, Mr Johnson explained, it will boost the business case for new restaurants and bars.

“It’s fantastic. I’m incredibly excited about the future. There is a difference between the public sector trying to stimulate growth and real businesses putting their money in. They understand their markets and will have done their research,” he added.

Ian Stephens, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, also welcomed the ongoing investment in new and existing hotels.

“It demonstrates confidence in the Lake District and Cumbria’s economy and the future of the destination,” he said.

“This investment not only brings new jobs but safeguards existing ones. Business visits and meetings are certainly boosting accommodation performance outside the Lake District but leisure visits continue to dominate in the national park and other rural areas.”